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If it were my pond I would start with YP-SMB. Use only pellet trained 4"-6" and some maybe 20-30% 6"-8" stocker YP. This creates big eating size YP the first fall and pellet eaters will allow the FHM to produce high numbers. NY DNR suggests you use GSF and they as adults can produce long term broodstock. I helped a local pondowner in 1989 stock their new pond with RES, YP(pellet fed), SMB, FHM and GSH NOTE not GSF. If you are in the same latitude as northern Ohio where RES persist, then RES would be an option to try. Today after 32 years all fish in this 1989 pond are doing well except the FHM. Some of the SMB are 19". The SMB can be added after the first YP spawn as fingerlings or as a last option catch and relocate 4-8 9"+ SMB. Surely at least one pair will be in the 4-8 fish mix and the offspring will provide a good M-F mix of recruits. In some areas and during poor SMB hatch years,,, fingerling SMB are not available. If after a few years you dislike performance of the YP-SMB fishery, you can easily change it by stocking other species including your CC. Note if you later add LMB you will significantly hamper CC, SMB, and YP recruitment. I have proven that with numerous pond fish surveys that were published. In northern areas the YP-SMB combo is a good starter fishery that can easily be changed just by adding the other desired fish. This is definitely not true with BG-LMB. New generations of each always persist which has pros and cons. No matter what you stock the CC will persist for a relatively long time maybe 14-20 years before the original stockers die of old age.

[Linked Image]


I LOVE to eat YP and WE. I LOVE to catch SMB.

Bill (all) - For my "renovated" and fish free 2.5 acre pond In UpperMid- OH, 1075' elevation (2.5 acre pond gone...) I'm looking to start with the YP-SMB-WE, I've shied away from a a pellet thrower as I'm not at the property 80% of time and looking to stock forage- not the most cost efficient method but one I can implement within the times I'm at the property.

I have LOTS of cover and structure in the pond, I was thinking of starting w FHM and GSH with TP when the predator species get large enough to consume those. I plan water chemical testing in Feb (60 days) and amend if necessary in Mar. I saw you suggest GSF as an additional species - I have zero experience with them except as a stunted pond edge fish in a LMB-BG pond.

Q1) Is the Depth 11-12' sufficient for WE?

Q2) With vertebrate barren 2.25 acre 11' deep pond with lots of cover and structure what stocking rate and which species should I stock in order?
- I've read stock the forage the 1st spring and predators 'later' but asking for advice w zero predators or prey in the water with this lineup.

Q3) Should I add any other forage species since I do not plan to toss pellets.

Thanks in advance - my local hatchery (Fenders) has all the species above - it's just about dialing it in with the vast knowledge on this forum.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 12/04/21 09:26 PM.

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Fishbowl Pond - 1.5 acre, family swimming hole, 22'
Figure 8 Pond - 1.25 acre, 12'
Crescent Pond - 2 acre 11'
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Stressless -- my statement of NY using GSF was an old person typing error. GSF should read GSH as in golden shiner which to many here will make much more sense to use with SMB,YP, WE. I will go back to my original post and fix my typing error mistake.

As for your questions; Q1) Is the Depth 11-12' sufficient for WE? I think 11-12 depth is enough for walleye. They actually tolerate warm water better that big old YP. Your main problem will be dependably locating WE for supplement stocking. If you want various sizes in the fishery then you will need to periodically stock more WE especially true if you are occasionally harvesting WE. Small 10"-14" WE will help thin numbers of mostly YP and somewhat the SMB. Fenders only occasionally have WE and later supplemental stockers should be 8"-11" for best chance of survival. Initial stockers can be 5"-7" and using this size for restock is a gamble and risky for their survival. 15-20/ac WE would be a good starter number. Fewer or more can be stocked later depending on their success and your need for predation/

I would start with 40-50 SMB per ac or fewer /ac so they have plenty of food, grow fast and do not eat too many of the breeder minnows/GSH. Watch SMB first and subsequent spawn success as they could damage or eliminate the FHM brooder fish base. SMB can occasionally although they rarely overpopulate similar to LMB. Remember each smallie will eat around 10 lbs of minnow type foods to grow to 12" about 1 lb. 50 SMB are eating 500 lbs of mostly minnows as food in about the first 12-16 months. See now why you need lots & lots of minnows before the predators are stocked???

Q2 - Part 1 - a vertebrate barren 2.25 acre 11' deep pond with lots of cover and structure,,,, what stocking rate and which species should I stock in order? A complex answer applies to this question. Since you are not feeding pellets stocking density will be lower numbers per acre assuming you want good growth rates. Lots of foods, usually diverse foods, are needed for good fish growth. Lusk says "Every Day A Fish Does Not Eat Is A Day It Does Not Grow". Fish need lots of food for best growth and when it is not there growth slows down accordingly. Your job as manager will be to always keep visible small forage fish present which indicates predators are not overeating the forage base. FHM, GSH and YP could provide adequate foods with the proper habitat for well managed SMB numbers and a few put and take WE. The general rule is that natural productivity clearish water ponds raise about 3 to 4 times fewer total fish pounds per acre compared to pellet fed fish ponds.
Part 2, The best plan or method to start the fishery is with abundant forage and allow GSH time to develop large adult sizes before the predators are added. The 2nd summer with adult minnows as forage will produce lots of minnows for the incoming fall added predators. Fenders usually has fingerling SMB in the fall but very, very rarely in spring due to being sold out. So if you miss the fall stocking of SMB then you will probably have to wait until 2nd fall stocking which is when I would add the WE and not the first fall. Unless you reduce the initial number of SMB and equally substitute several WE per acre the first fall.

Q3) Should I add any other forage species since I do not plan to toss pellets. Diversifying the forage is a VERY good idea. If you allow one summer for minnow/GSH to reproduce then the pond will develop a huge invertebrate community to help feed fingerling stocker fish when stocked later. Fender will disagree with this, but think about it. Fish farms want to sell fish so they heavily push full initial stockings. Allowing one full spring-summer season for minnows to reproduce will astonish you as to how many small fishes will present by October. You could initially also stock RES, and crayfish; both in the spring. RES will help reduce the chance of fish parasites transmitted from the snail as vector. I've seen Fender's RES and papershell crayfish and those sold that I've seen are sometimes not pure species. I even saw at least one instance where their LMB contaminated SMB purchased only as smallies.

Most fish farms buy most all their fish for sale, not Fender. I have known them and bought lots of fish from them since 1988. Fender 'self' farms a lot of water (200+ac) and the self farmed fish crop for sale can get the occasional mistakenly added fish mixed in with the batch one buys. This is why I like to buy larger individuals and fewer individuals so I can always sort out the 'mistake' fish. The smaller the stockers are the more likely the mistake fish will be introduced into what you buy because it is pretty difficult even for farm helpers and even the experts to recognize a 2" RES from HBG, BG or other type of hybrid sunfish. Fish farms get numerous types of hybrid sunfish when they raise them their self. Buyer beware. This is not usually a problem when LMB are used as bigmouth predator, but without LMB the chances of the mistake fishes growing and reproducing becomes significantly more likely. I've seen green sunfish offspring ruin minnow and YP based fisheries. A few LMB will eventually ruin a smallmouth fishery. RES purchases of small individuals can have the occasional BG and or HBG mixed in the RES.

I best prefer stocking only papershell crayfish that always stay in the pond and do not climb out and make mud chimneys as do other common crayfish species. Papershell crays stay a little smaller than other species, are a little less aggressive, and perform VERY well as forage for perch, smallies and WE. Abundant rocky habitat allows them to thrive. Fender papershell crayfish years ago had rusty crayfish in the mix. I had to and always hand sorted them. Rusty's are considered aggressive and can crowd out papershell over time. There might even be red swamp crays or northern crays at many fish farms now. Steve F is pretty opinionated about fish stocking and be prepared to deal with this. Remember Steve and ALL Fish Farms are in the business to sell fish and not necessarily being real concerned and willing to closely follow your long term goals for the pond fishery. I am selling you nothing. I have even stocked special minnows, mayfly larvae and other aquatic invertebrates into ponds to enhance the forage base.

Minnow / GSH If you have good ample spawning structure for FHM, stock in late Apr or early May 8-10 lbs FHM per ac and 4-5 lbs GSH per acre. GSH really need shallow shoreline algae, weedy areas, or shag rug type material along the shoreline for egg laying. The other option is to buy a box GSH fry from Arkansas. Although if you provide spawning structure for some mature GSH of several pounds,,, they will produce thousands of fry the first year providing you stock them as mature and prespawn. Sometimes you can order adult GSH from local bait shops that would get them shipped in with their FHM. RES 4"-6" can be added with FHM and if some are 5"-6",, RES should spawn in early - mid June. 40 to 50 RES per ac prespawn would give you a very good big 1st year crop of RES.

Be aware you IMO you will need to maintain a dedicated slot size harvest of fish since you will not feed pellets. You should annually monitor the spawn survival success, (aka recruitment) so one specie does not overpopulate. This would most likely eventually be the YP or SMB. Good survival of SMB or YP fingerlings could over eat the minnow forage base and slow the growth of the WE. due to lack of food. RES will very rarely overpopulate with SMB and WE present.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 12/05/21 12:23 PM. Reason: Numerous enhancements

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Blown away Bill - Thank you for the time and thorough / thoughtful answer. I'm gonna make some cliff notes and keep this updated as the situation warrents/ stocking decisions rates harvet etc.

Def adding the +plus sized RES to the lineup.

[Linked Image]
Q4) Crayfish - There is about 1500 sq meters of undisturbed bottom much of that I'm positive held over amphibians and invertebrates (saw and heard them as Aug after the excavation was done) - if papershell crayfish can get out competed is there a better crayfish species as I don't mind the mud-tunnels where this pond is located.


Q5) TP - I'll bump this into it's own question as in my thinking (which is often wrong in this area) in year two (and annually after) to increase the overall forage base, late May to mid Sep here in OH, I would stock TP ~15#/ SA to add a forage that will offload the needed consumption rate from the RSH, FHM and GSH 'base' and be self limiting.

I'm not expecting the annual TP stocking to 'completely' replace the pellets or to minimize the needed slot length. I would like your opinion/changes on the TP stocking as an additional forage in this plan?

Last edited by Stressless; 12/05/21 02:25 PM.

8 Ponds in Mid-East Ohio, three streams that merge to 1.

Fishbowl Pond - 1.5 acre, family swimming hole, 22'
Figure 8 Pond - 1.25 acre, 12'
Crescent Pond - 2 acre 11'
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IMO - During my training and education if one knows good detailed pond ecology there are rarely simple short answers for pond maintenance questions. Ponds are complex systems very similar as the human body; each is composed of numerous complex systems all interacting together as one unit.

I like using the plus size RES even if stocked as initial fewer numbers as a good idea. It allows more accurate sorting of fish from the fish farm and by you if pure RES are desired.

Q4 “If papershell crayfish can get out competed is there a better crayfish species as I don't mind the mud-tunnels.”
If you are not concerned about the mud tunnels of crayfish then I would just get 300-600 crayfish from Fenders for 1st year stocking before adding SMB. You might have to pre-order them before picking up some of your other fish due to the number of crays wanted. If the pond does not have some decent rocky habitat then crayfish will not really thrive nor flourish in the pond due to the strong predation pressures by YP, SMB, and WE upon the smaller size crays (See on this later). . Later if the pond does not maintain crayfish numbers as evidenced from catching them in traps in the rocky habitat areas then periodic restocking of several hundred crays would be beneficial. I don't think Fender charges a lot for his crayfish. Crays are a nuisance pond item for them. Good numbers of crayfish will help control filamentous algae and the more delicate pond weeds. If the pond gets too many crayfish and water becomes murky then you can regularly trap them out and add them to your other ponds as good forage items. Crayfish readily enter baited traps. Dead, cut fish, or dog / cat food are good trap baits.
If your purchase of crayfish does include some rusty crays that are now common in Ohio, rusty crayfish as does most all pond items has pros and cons. See this from
https://www.northwoodsbass.com/match-the-hatch-rusty-crayfish/
““In our northwoods lakes that are populated by them, rusty crayfish make up 60% to 80% of the smallmouth’s diet. There are so many present on some lakes that smallmouth can eat often and whenever they want. Big smallmouth sizes and trophy statuses are achieved and maintained through a rich diet of over-abundant native and non-native rusty crayfish.””
Loppnow in 2009 reported the group of fish that are able to eat crayfish of any size includes northern pike, pumpkinseed, tiger muskellunge, walleye, large and smallmouth bass. All bluegill, pumpkinseed, yellow perch, redear sunfish, yellow perch and rock bass are capable of eating lots of juvenile crayfish. A study by Roth et al. (2007) found that high levels of predation on juvenile rusty crayfish by bluegill and pumpkinseed can keep crayfish populations small. Intense predation on juveniles over a short period of time would have a larger impact on the crayfish population than large fish eating only a few adults over a longer period of time.


Q5 “I would stock TP ~15#/ SA to add a forage that will offload the needed consumption rate from the RSH (RES), FHM and GSH 'base' and be self limiting. … opinion/changes on the TP stocking as an additional forage in this plan?”
I like tilapia for filamentous algae and delicate plant management. First try the 15lb/ac and watch the results. Abundant TP young do provide good forage especially when the water is cooler. Yes use them. The only thing you want to make sure of is they have to be the 50:50 mixed M-F sex and not ones originated from a normal tilapia food fish farm. Ask before buying. Food fish farmed tilapia are almost all males and this results in very few TP offspring.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 12/05/21 09:25 PM.

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Thank you once again for the time and informative content Bill.

I read up on the rusty crayfish, looks like I actually have them in some other ponds on the property. Thx for the broad perspective and help.

I'll be creating a 3 year plan based on the above - and be scouring the site for the ways to ensure the fish that are brought out are in fact the ones ordered - that point was driven home 😉.

I'm not new to ponds, grew up on a farm with one, but the management of a fishery is in fact new me and the techniques to keep it viable and attain my goals is something I'll be working hard at. Figure I'll post up the plan and ask for constructive criticism of it prior to Xmas. I'm not hard set on Steve's fish farm, it's just very convenient. If there are better outlets that you would recommend in the OH area I'm very willing to heed your experience.


8 Ponds in Mid-East Ohio, three streams that merge to 1.

Fishbowl Pond - 1.5 acre, family swimming hole, 22'
Figure 8 Pond - 1.25 acre, 12'
Crescent Pond - 2 acre 11'
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So far so good on the pond refilling... as I haven't started any stocking (yet) looking for opinions on this plan.

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

Remeasuring Crescent Pond in Google Earth the SA of the pond comes out to 2 acres. so that's the measurement I'll use for stocking. I do listen and I may try pellet feeding in this pond - that's a completely new thing fo me and I'll get around to figuring out the size/right feed etc in the next month or so ... I plan to still go heavy on the live forage and that's reflected below.

2022 - Year 1:

April
  • FHM - 24#
  • GSH minnow (3") 15#
  • GSH Brood stock 20 fish
  • Crayfish 700
  • 70 RES 4"-6"
  • 30 RES 6"-8"
  • 150 YP 4"-6" (pellet trained)
  • 30 YP 6"-8" (pellet trained)


Late Spring thru Summer - Supplemental stocking of SFS, BNM etc as I can catch them from the local creeks.


October
  • 60 SMB 4"-6"
  • 20 SMB 8"-10"


2023 - Year - 2:


April
  • FHM - 24#
  • GSH minnow (3") 15#
  • GSH Brood stock 10 fish
  • Crayfish 700
  • 150 YP 4"-6" (pellet trained)


November
  • 25 WE 8"-11"


2024 - Year - 3:
Will be based on prey / predator catch and observations. I will most likely stock TP in late May.

Ladder stocking SMB and WE on alternate years if no SMB YoY observed.



I saw B.Cody mentioned "Shag Carpet" for GSH bedding - does anyone have a link here or pics to add fidelity to that? I would really like to get the GSH reproducing but have never tried anything like that.

Last edited by Stressless; 01/16/22 05:00 PM.

8 Ponds in Mid-East Ohio, three streams that merge to 1.

Fishbowl Pond - 1.5 acre, family swimming hole, 22'
Figure 8 Pond - 1.25 acre, 12'
Crescent Pond - 2 acre 11'
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In New York Golden shiners spawn over an extended period from May to July. Females deposit adhesive eggs over filamentous algae and submerged weed beds. After spawning, the eggs are abandoned. Adults are usually less than 6 inches long.

Reproduction begins in the spring when the water temperature reaches 68ºF and continues for several months until the water temperature exceeds 81ºF. A pound of golden shiners may produce over one-half million eggs in a season. Golden shiners are broadcast spawners; they lay adhesive eggs on submersed vegetation, or in culture ponds, on mats of latex-coated coconut fiber. The small eggs (~1-mm diameter) hatch in three to five days, depending on water temperature.

Spawning mats are added to the pond during the spawning season when water temperatures reach 70F (21.1C), typically April to June in north Florida. The number of mats placed in the pond varies with spawning activity, and it is important to use the minimum number necessary to ensure high use of each mat and to prevent unused mats from getting fouled with dirt and algae. Mats are placed level along the shore at 1–2 (2.5–5 cm) water depth.

If the pond has real shallow weeds or filamentous algae this structure should provide substrate for GSH to lay their eggs. artificial materials see below.

Mats.
http://www.beemerfisheries.com http://www.beemerfisheries.com/mats.html

Spawntex spawning mat.
https://pentairaes.com/spawntex-spawning-mat.html

This is used for Kio and carp spawning and could work for GSH. you can use tightly packed Spanish Moss or frayed nylon rope to create the mat. Some breeders even use evergreen branches. Generally speaking, anything that is nontoxic and about 4 inches deep will work.

Alternate option for collecting eggs. The egg mats consist of 3.5-foot by 2.5-foot metal frames that weigh about 20 pounds and are filled with a material similar to that used for a furnace filter. Mats are deployed by being gradually lowered to the river bottom from the bow of a boat. Furnace filters would work as smaller mats.

Another method of collecting eggs. As water temperatures reach 68 °F, place synthetic substrates or mats (Spawntex®) around the shallow edge of the pond for the females to lay their eggs on. Mats are about 2 inches thick and made of coconut fibers with a latex binder. This material is generally purchased by the roll and will need to be cut into smaller sections, about 3 feet by 2 feet is recommended. Attach the cut sections to a wire frame, and then suspend the sections below the water surface. This can be done using floats as in the picture shown but other methods will work as well (Figure 6.1). The mat material is too dense to allow fish to pass through, but each mat has sufficient void spaces to allow eggs to be trapped and retained. The mats should be left in the pond 3-7 days depending on the rate of egg deposition and temperature.


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Thank you very much once again Bill.

I didn't know GSH were such shallow bank spawners. Planting the 40-50 Balcypress in April of this year right at the High Water Level and then putting 10 or so of the mats when the water reaches 68f - I'll probably get ~5 from each supplier you linked above as the submerged weeds on 70-80% of the pond bank were greatly disturbed in Aug '21. No Idea at all what the FA will be like in that pond after disturbance of so much soil....

Any +/- or outright changes to the stocking plan above? I was wondering about the SMB the first fall but that seems to follow your guidance above and what I've read in other posts with a new SMB/YP fishery. I plan to Add WE in low numbers as an incidental catch species, also to not sway the balance of pond Prey/Pred too much.

Last edited by Stressless; 01/16/22 10:57 AM.

8 Ponds in Mid-East Ohio, three streams that merge to 1.

Fishbowl Pond - 1.5 acre, family swimming hole, 22'
Figure 8 Pond - 1.25 acre, 12'
Crescent Pond - 2 acre 11'
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I didn't know GSH were such shallow bank spawners.

That is why I posted that info. Not a lot of people know his tidbit of GSH spawning habit.

If one is creative and resourceful he should be able to find a good substitute to the commercial spawning mats. I have read where shag carpet works good for GSH spawning. IF money is an issue check with some carpet installers and tell them you will pay for used throw away shag carpet. Otherwise just by spawning mat material. Even buying new cheap shag carpet 3ft to 4ft wide from a Big Box store roll might be cheaper than buying commercial spawning mats. I would look into both options before "pulling the trigger".

Your stocking plan looks okay to me. SMB in the 1st fall should work really well since there will be a full summer season of minnow, RES and maybe YP breeding and recruitment. You will be very surprised how many small fish will be present the first fall if you follow your plan. Okay - add several WE in years 2 to 3 if small fish are still obviously abundant. If you feed pellets and or some crushed, ground pellets minnow abundance should be very obvious. Minnows will quickly learn where ground feed in distributed.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 01/16/22 02:05 PM.

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The only thing that might be hard to find is the larger sized RES and SMB.

GSH spawning area can also be grass that is flooded. A customer typically has a lower pond level in early Spring. Grass will start to grow, then the pond level rises and the GSH spawn like crazy on the flooded grassy areas.


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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).
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